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tv   Erin Burnett Out Front  CNN  December 10, 2012 11:00pm-12:00am PST

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that's it for us. thanks for watching. erin burnett "out front" starts "outfront" next, president obama in michigan today selling americans on the plan for taxes. we are 22 days away from the cliff. does the plan add up? daring rescue in afghanistan claims the life of an american navy s.e.a.l. as we prepare to go to afghanistan, we take a closer look at the american troop presence and how many americans will stay. and off field violence leads to the death of two nfl violence. why the violence on the field is
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much more important issue. let's go out front. jup testify-like storm. is it a slope? a downward spiral towards something much worse? the possibility is just 22 days away and sounds ominous but it could be a walk in the park compared with what could happen if lawmakers don't take a closer look at our bigger debt picture and soon. because what they're talking about is peanuts. president obama was in michigan today pushing the fiscal cliff plan and you know what? he made the solution sound so simple. >> when you put it altogether what you need is a package that keeps taxes where they are for middle class families, we make
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some tough spending cuts on things we don't need and ask the wealthiest americans to pay a slightly higher tax rate. >> not so fast, mr. president. president obama says his plan reduces the deficit we $4 trillion over 10 years. forget the fact that it counts war savings which shouldn't count and go with the $4 trillion. house speaker john boehner said his plan cuts $2.2 trillion over 10 years. think about $16 trillion. that's how much debt this country has and according to bill gross, the man who runs the world's biggest bond fund, the guy that decides to lend money to the united states and how much we have to pay to borrow, says we have to cut spending or raise taxes by 11% of gdp over next 10 years and according to gross that's $1.6 trillion a year. that is, let's just make this clear, $1.2 trillion a year more than the president proposes and
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$1.38 trillion a year more than john boehner has offered. yeah. peanuts. i recently spoke with erskine bowles, the bowles in simpson-bowles and even he agreed that bill gross is right. >> absolutely. he's 100% right. i don't know if 16's number but i would be happier at $5 trillion or $6 trillion because that's what we need to solve the problem long term. >> those are big numbers. bilg gross will be with us in a moment. i want to bring in john avalon right now. this is what i find incredible is we are getting so focused on the deal and the politics of a deal and going off the cliff and if the cliff is a slope and missing the overall picture which is that we have a bigger crisis than anybody's talking about. >> that's a great point and exactly right and what they have been warning about. look. politics is the art of the possible and near term that focus on $4 trillion, $2 trillion, look how hard that is to get to. it doesn't begin to solve the larger problem.
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we need to get economic growth and cuts in ways that this congress can't contemplate. >> thank you. now let's bring in bill gross, founder of pimco. they said we're talking now and getting a deal done and focused on this whatever it's going to be. as you have pointed out, we could need $16 trillion. erskine bowles said you were absolutely right. what happens if we settle on what washington thinks is a big win? let's call it $3 trillion. >> i think $3 trillion, $4 trillion will be a sufficient number, erin, to sort of calm investment markets and to produce a real economy that is growth positive as opposed to growth negative. you know, the real problem going forward is, you know, we are going over the cliff no matter what and depends on whether we go over like will e. coyote or
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road run we are a parachute. that's the road runner with a ra pa ra chute and there's more taxes to raise and entitlements to cut over the ensuing years. >> that's i guess the problem. i prefer to be roadrunner with a parachute. how can washington do the deal that prevent it is country from -- to give a sense of the outcomes, could be borrowing costs skyrocket. the costs are very serious in the long term. right? >> i think they are. it involves what's known as fiscal drag to economists. basically when you raise taxes and lower entitlements, lower federal spending, that reduces economic growth and it will. it just depend on how slowly or how quickly you do it.
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if you do it quickly, it's a cliff. if you do it slowly, you drift down in a parachute. it seems to me in terms of the $16 trillion as opposed to $4 trillion, our entitlements are so significant that medicare, medicaid, social security going forward, based upon the aging of the boomers, primarily, that number is so significant at some point two or three or four years down the road, we'll be back at it in terms of cutting entitlements and raising taxes. we really have a significant grand canyon here. >> so this, if we do $4 trillion which is very optimistic right now, that's a band-aid or a small down payment. am i -- yeah? >> i think so. there's no doubt that will calm markets, that, you know, positive enthusiasts will look to that in terms of higher stock prices and higher economic growth in the short term, but ultimately, this drag, this fiscal drag is a significant force based upon reducing entitlements over the next 10,
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15, 20 years, and we're going to have to address it at some point beyond the $4 trillion number i think is coming. >> so we have to go four times bigger which is one sobering take-away here. let me ask you about something else. the american people as you know, bill, all say, go ahead, raise taxes on families making $250,000 or more a year. in fact, when you ask them, as george washington university and politico did today, whether there would be a negative economic effect from doing so, 38% said yes, 58% said no, no impact at all from raising taxes on the wealthy. what do you think? >> i think just a minor impact. it depends on how you make assumptions in terms of what the wealthy will do with the money that they lose. to my way of thinking, those that are making $1 million, $2 million, $5 million a year, basically have a lot of that in cash and are simply investing it in treasury bills and treasury bonds to the extent that you take some of that away, does it
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reduce economic growth? i don't think so. does it raise interest rates? i don't think it does that either because the fed is in there with a checkbook. i simply think the effect will be minimal. >> one way to get closer to the $16 trillion, i'm not even saying that, but marginally a little bit on the margins closer to $16 trillion would be raising taxes. bill clinton said it at an event i was at, bill dean said it. tax rates need to go up, not just on other people, i.e. wealthy people, but all people. here's bill clinton. >> i think you could tax me at 100% and you wouldn't balance the budget. we are all going to have to contribute to this. and if middle class people's wages were going up again and we had some growth in the economy, i don't think they would object to going back to the tax rates that i obtained when i was president. >> do americans need to realize that taxes are going to go up and on everyone? >> i think they do, but let's be honest and faithful to an
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economic theory which basically says it's the lower and middle income groups that basically spend most of the money. so if you do raise taxes on middle income americans, you're going to see some economic effect in terms of slower growth. so do i disagree with bill clinton to some extent? yes, i think i do. i think the bulk of the taxation has to come through capital gains taxes, has to come through dividend taxes in terms of increasing and certainly from increasing the marginal income tax rate from a minimal 36% to a compromise 38% level. >> thank you very much with a proposal there of 38% from bill gross and a sobering reminder that a $4 trillion cut would be a small down payment on our problem. the government is working closely with rebel groups in syria. but now one of the groups is going to be designated a terrorist group with ties to al qaeda. plus, the u.s. postal service loses $25 million every
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single day. could this holiday season be the last for the usps? and mexican-american singer jenni rivera confirmed as one of those killed in a plane crash. we'll look at her final moments in legacy, "outfront." [ female announcer ] what if the next big thing, isn't a thing at all? it's lots of things. all waking up. ♪ becoming part of the global phenomenon we call the internet of everything. ♪ trees will talk to networks will talk to scientists about climate change. cars will talk to road sensors will talk to stoplights about traffic efficiency. the ambulance will talk to patient records will talk to doctors about saving lives. it's going to be amazing.
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the u.s. government is declaring a key serious rebel group a terrorist organization with ties to al qaeda in iraq. here's what we know about this group which the united states estimates is about 9% of rebel forces in syria. we know this, the group is credited with many military successes for the rebels and they have claimed responsibility for suicide attacks in damascus and aleppo. the group also includes fighters who were involved in the iraqi insurgency. now, as the u.s. steps up its cooperation with syrian rebels, how significant is the move by the united states to call a crucial group of rebels a terrorist organization? fareed zakaria joins me tonight. host of "fareed zakaria gps." fareed, first of all, the u.s. estimates this group makes up 9% of rebels. in a country where we don't know who is who and what is what, how do we know it's about 9% of rebels? >> i think that claim is almost certainly wrong. i think the one thing we should have learned from iraq, from
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what we know about iran's nuclear weapon capacity, from afghanistan, is that, you know, these are black boxes. we have very few people in syria. the idea that we could estimate 9% of the rebels are any one group is ludicrous. i think we will be surprised in syria as we were surprised in iraq, surprised in afghanistan. what is significant is we have figured out there is a group that is fighting very well. these guys are real good fighters. that it's very dangerous and this will complicate the effort to help the syrian rebels enormously. >> how big of an influence then is al qaeda in the rebels? we don't know exactly how many, but when you thing about it and hear about it, how significant is al qaeda? >> i think it's very important to understand, again, we don't know whether this is al qaeda inspired, al qaeda connected or al qaeda directed. those are three different phenomenon. my guess is it's al qaeda inspired. this is a local jihadi group. perhaps there's qatari money,
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but these guys are really fanatical islamists but they're not getting their military orders from zawahiri. it makes it very difficult for the united states to give any kind of blanket support to the syrian rebels because we're always going to be worried, well, what if the weapons get to these guys? what if some measures we take empower these guys? we don't want these weapons to be used against an american aircraft carrier, you know, or a port or a subway five years from now. >> this is another thing i'm curious about. it seems like it's reaching a critical mass in the united states, the move to arm and help the rebels in some way. i could be wrong, but it feels we're hearing more and more about it. i still don't understand because we go in and we intervene in libya. and we weren't able to procure weapons there. now the weapons are being used in gaza and now apparently being used in syria. so if we intervene, does it do more good than harm?
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>> i think it's a very complicated situation. if we don't know whom we are intervening for, i do think there's a potential for consequences we don't understand. what's going on in syria is -- at one level, it's a very simple morality play, which is assad and his regime are awful, brutal dictators. they have been oppressing their people. on another level, it's complicated. there are a number of people against the government who are also bad guys. there are a lot of people supporting the government. a lot of kurds and christians and syrians in syria are supporting the government, not because they like the government -- >> you have assad fighting an al qaeda-linked group, so maybe we should be helping assad, according to logic. >> all of which tells you we need to learn more about what's going on. we need to support the good guys. i think we should do that and we can do that, but let's make sure they really are good guys. >> that brings me to the issue of chemical weapons. there's talk that russia has
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them and assad might use them. do you believe any of that? do we really know when you think back to iraq, do we really know what chemical weapons syria has and whether assad would use them or if they could come into the hands of the al qaeda-linked groups or rebels that could use them? >> my guess is they do have some. historically, this has always been the view. who knows how many and how effective they are? the most important thing to remember about chemical weapons is they're not actually that effective. so part of what -- the reason regimes like assad and saddam hussein stockpile them is it scared people. it made them think, you know, we can poison whole villages. the truth is the gas disperses very fast. it's not very effective. so i would guess -- my gut is the syrian regime will not use it. i think that president obama's very stern warning to them probably helped in that regard. so i think that while we should be cautious, it's not clear they're going to use them. >> senator john mccain is trying
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to get on the senate foreign relations committee, which would put him in the cat bird seat in grilling susan rice or who may come up for secretary of state. when you look at john kerry versus susan rice, who is the hawk and who is the dove? >> i think the truth is in this administration, the president is his own chief strategist. the secretary of state implements the president's policy. hillary clinton has been a superb secretary of state because she has recognized that. policymaking is done in the white house by the president. she gets to be the global ambassador at large for the united states. so neither of them is going to be making policy. barack obama is going to be making policy. >> thanks very much, fareed. appreciate it as also. this sunday, don't miss "tough decisions," a "fareed zakaria gps" special where he's going to talk to u.s. leaders about the tough decisions they had to make around the world. this sunday at 8:00 and 11:00 p.m. eastern on cnn. our third story out front. post office in peril.
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tis the season to head to the post office. right? people, i know you think it's okay to send online greeting cards. it isn't. it always matters more. it's part of the scenery of the season. package presents. letters to santa. the postal service could be in danger. they're losing $25 million every day and running out of cash next year. the senate passed a bill to save in it april but the house has just days to get it done and about to die. out front tonight, john avalon. i made my point here. still very important to send real letters. >> yeah. >> but the house didn't pass the bill and no law. why not? >> this is the oldest problem and all the usual suspects. senate passed a bipartisan bill. wasn't perfect but got a bill done. that was back in april. since then, crickets. nothing. nada. the house tried to put forward its own bill. hasn't passed it. we are left in the last days of the year and they're trying to cobble together a deal. partisan politics stopped it in the past.
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the arrogance, perfect. enemy of the good. part of the last-minute negotiations. bad news, two defaults hasn't woken up the congress. >> losing $25 million a day and democrats and republicans both agree on one thing. they want votes. a lot of things to do to save the post office involved costing a lot of -- one of the largest employers in the country. costing jobs. >> and these are tough choices. again, you know, the senate was a bipartisan bill and cut about 20,000 by early retirement and kept, for example, saturday delivery. look. the postmaster general -- >> we can get rid of saturday delivery. >> this is a debate right now. the postmaster general said he wanted to go further. that's one of the big negotiations that's going on right now and conversations i had with folks up on the hill and might be part of the fiscal cliff negotiation but a question of how much more money saved by things like making packages happen on saturdays but not necessarily all mail delivery.
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tough negotiation realtime. >> now another thing to the fiscal cliff deal? a deal i'm pretty sure is pretty bad whatever it is. not enough. >> but every little bit helps and here's the point. you know, the post office defaulted twice in the last couple of months, erin. august, defaulted $5.5 billion the first time. congress did nothing, fiddled. happened in september. overall last year, they lost $15.9 billion. something's got to be done. do they kick the can to the next year? >> thanks so much, john. talking about default, they default and nobody cares. some day we'll care and going to hurt. next, 22 days if the fiscal cliff and the president's taking the plan on the road but a guest says mr. obama, you are overplaying your hand. and a radio prank blamed for a suicide. the two deejays behind the hoax speak out for the first time. ♪
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we start the second half of our show with stories we care about where we focus on our reporting from the front lines. we begin tonight with an australian radio station which has canceled a show responsible for a hoax targeting prince william's pregnant wife. just days after last tuesday's prank call, the nurse who first answered the phone, jacintha
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saldanha, was found dead of an apparent suicide. the radio deejays who claimed to be queen elizabeth and prince charles apologized today for the prank, saying they're sorry. >> not a minute goes by that we don't think about the family and what they must be going through and the thought that we may have played a part in that is gut wrenching. >> the radio station says the deejays will not return to air until further notice. iran is hoping to establish a long-term presence in the red sea. right now, two iranian warships are docked in sudan. that's their second visit there in less than two months. there's been no official word yet on how long the destroyer and helicopter carrier will stay, but sudanese government sources tell us over the next few days it's going to be decided if it's a long-term deal. the decision could be problematic for the united states if it turns out iran is trying to expand its presence new the crucial suez canal. >> it's been 494 days since the u.s. lot their top credit
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rating. what are we doing to try to get it back? well, a new report says that by 2030, china will be the largest economy. they base it on the size of the economy, population, military spending, and investment in technology. our fourth story, selling a fix. with just 22 days until the fiscal cliff kicks in and we all go sailing off. we're hearing a lot of talk about talking between the president and the house speaker. apparently, these talks are behind closed doors because they're talking over or at or something not good at each other. here is president obama today in detroit on his plan to raise taxes on families making more than $250,000 a year. >> that's a principle i won't compromise on because i'm not going to have a situation where the wealthiest among us, including folks like me, get to keep all our tax breaks. >> is the tough talk road show working for the president tonight?
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ben labolt is a former press secretary for the obama campaign. he had a vacation that's why he looks healthy now. and republican strategist terry holt. good to see both of you. terry, i want to start with you. the most recent poll we have "the washington post"/pew says by a margin of about 2 to 1, americans say republicans in congress will be to blame if there's not a deal on the fiscal cliff. so is the speaker losing the fiscal cliff pr battle? the american people are blaming him. >> well, the speaker's trying to have a conversation with the president about how to solve the nation's problems. and the president is out on the campaign trail. the president prefers to campaign trail to the hard and rough road of true leadership in washington, d.c. i kind of think the president might have overplayed his hand here a little bit. if he were smart, the american people would be a little more expecting of him to be in washington to fix this before christmas. we're all a little bit tired of
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this campaign drama. i was looking at pictures today of the president out in michigan. i thought, wait a minute, i thought the election was over. people are going to see through this. you cannot sell them short. they'll figure it out. ben, to terry's point, we know americans support raising taxes on people who make over $250,000. that's not many people and most people support other people paying more taxes. so if most people support it, why is he out talking about it and not talking to john boehner? >> you might remember there was a bit of a scuffle in the campaign when the president said you can't change washington from the inside. he has long believed that, and not only was he out in michigan, but he engaged his organization, the obama supporters across the country. the campaign sent out an e-mail asking them to call their member of congress. the fact is that the public has supported for two years now, 60% of americans have supported higher rates, yet republicans haven't moved. you're seeing an increasing number of republican members of congress dropping off and agreeing with the president that we need to raise rates, but we
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need to see a proposal on the table to get that done. >> well, i mean, both sides -- >> you know, erin -- >> the president and john boehner have proposals on the table. both of them have been non-starters for the other side. terry, go ahead. >> i was going to say the day after the election when the president was doing his victory lap, speaker boehner held a press conference and said, great, you won the election. congratulations. maybe we do need to raise revenues, but let's do the right thing. let's talk about entitlement reform, let's talk about comprehensive tax reform, not so we're just taxing the rich like the democrats want to do, but so we have a comprehensive approach for growing this economy, for creating jobs. you don't do one or two things in isolation. it all fits together into a compromise that addresses a comprehensive economic need. >> ben, one thing terry said, this is obviously more than just raising taxes. and the president has acknowledged that, right? he's acknowledged entitlement reform has to be a part of it. i wonder on the tax issue if you
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have a fear as a strategist that he's going to lose the battle on taxes but lose the war. in terms of whether americans approve or disapprove of the job the president is doing, 59% disapprove. that's almost the same number who agree with him on raising taxes on the wealthy. >> i think that the president here is the one who has laid out the package to get us to the $4 trillion in deficit reduction. >> you cont war savings in that which is -- come on. >> the fact is what speaker boehner has proposed in terms of revenue doesn't get us to where every bipartisan deficit commission has said we need. and the president is the only one who outlined the specifics to get us to the $4 trillion deficit reduction. look. the president has been clear from the beginning that he's not going to get everything he wants. that he's willing to compromise. the speaker and other republicans should put on the table their specifics in terms of entitlement reform and spending cuts because the only person who has put forward those specifics so far, his proposal is the president.
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>> and he did in his budget, which is fair, terry, because john boehner had overall numbers and no breakdown. i want to play to you what senator bob corker said yesterday about what he thought john boehner should do to get what he wants on entitlement here's what he said. >> a lot of people are putting forth a theory. and i actually think it has merit where you go ahead and give the president the 2% increase that he is talking about. >> i mean, he would be so happy, terry, if he got that, right? that's what he said he's going to get, he's not going to bend on. what if you gave it to him and you said, in exchange, here's my list? maybe he would do that deal. >> i'm not sure that he's looking for a policy victory. i think he's looking for a political victory. he wants to do the dance in the end zone. and i believe at this point that negotiations that will result in something substantive, what we're going to get is a package that really nobody likes. we're going to have entitlement reform which the democrats have to swallow. they understand that's the big
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chunk of the federal debt that's looming over us. and republicans have already talked about moving revenue numbers so that we raise more money from some people over the long haul, but let's not kid ourselves. the debt ceiling is going to have to be raised and we're not talking enough about that. at the end of the day, the president also has the debt ceiling hanging over his head. at that point, his leverage ebbs away pretty fast. >> ben, that was a crucial question. this morning, lindsey graham said the president will be in for a rude awakening if he wants to raise the debt ceiling after this. he may get what he wants and then have another nightmare scenario with the debt ceiling that got us down graded as a country the last time. >> this is a crazy strategy for republican wheres. just as a matter of raw politics, their approval rating sank to historic lows. and you know what the implications were for the economy generally. terry, i don't think anybody is looking for a political victory here.
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the political victory already happened. this is one of the main things that the president put on the ballot. he said we have an opportunity to break the economic stalemate in washington with one of two approaches. the american people voted for his approach. so now this is all about getting that balanced package finalized. the president has put forward his specific proposal. he's willing to compromise. and at this point, we're listing the support of the american people to insure that republican members of congress don't drag us over the fiscal cliff, which nobody wants to do. >> we'll hit pause there. terry, since you began, ben will end. that's fair and square. thanks to both. "outfront" next, as we prepare to take our show on the road to afghanistan this week, the chairman of the armed services committee is "outfront." and it is confirmed. mexican-american singer jenni rivera was on a plane that went down. more on the fatal flight and her life next. [ male announcer ] alka-seltzer plus presents the cold truth.
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and we're back with tonight's outer circle where we reach out to our sources around the world. tonight, we go to cuba where venezuelan president hugo chavez arrived today for his third cancer operation just days after he announced the potentially life-threatening cancer had returned. chavez is igniting a political firestorm after saying for the
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first time if he does suffer complications from surgery, his vice president will be elected as venezuela's new leader to continue his movement. i asked about the latest. >> erin, hugo chavez has once again returned to cuba to fight cancer. chavez had declared himself cured of the disease before winning re-election in october. but on saturday night in a stunning announcement, he said he's ill and in considerable pain. for the first time, chavez is admitting the possibility he might not survive, naming his vice president to be his successor. maduro, though, would face election if chavez leaves office, and he would go up against a venezuelan opposition that is increasingly united and eager to end the era of hugo chavez in venezuela. erin? >> thank you very much. now we go to mexico where authorities have confirmed that 43-year-old jenni rivera, an american-born singer, was on
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board a learjet that disintegrated on impact on sunday. she was a household name to many mexican-americans. she sold more than 15 million albums and had a slew of namesake clothing and cosmetic brands and a hit reality show on telemundo. she also had five children. rafael ramirez is in mexico today, and i asked what made rivera beloved by so many. >> erin, they call her diva and for anyone who ever saw her on stage, it was easy to see why. she sang heart-wrenching ballads that spoke to the common woman, especially mexican-americans. she was born in long beach, california, to mexican parents. their story is one of many immigrants of humble origins. in an interview with cnn in 2010, she spoke about how she sold music records at a los angeles flea market and how the family collected cans for the meager income they could bring in selling the metal. she sold 15 million records and won 2 billboard music awards in
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a career that spanned over a decade. she was also a very successful businesswoman who owned several companies. "people" named her one of the 25 most powerful his hispanic women. erin? >> thanks. our fifth story. tragedy in afghanistan. a daring rescue to free a doctor in afghanistan has cost the life of a navy s.e.a.l. petty officer first class nicolas checque was killed saturday. the doctor had been kidnapped by taliban insurgents last wednesday. he was a member of s.e.a.l. team 6, the same elite unit that took part in the raid that killed osama bin laden. pentagon correspondent barbara starr is out front with the latest. >> reporter: it was a brutal firefight between navy s.e.a.l.s and insurgents. the s.e.a.l.s moved into eastern afghanistan over the weekend to rescue a kidnapped american aide worker. by the time the firefight ended,
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28-year-old petty officer first class nicolas checque had been killed. checque, a 10-year navy veteran, part of the elite team six, trained for the rescue. joseph was one of three staffers from the relief organization morning star development. >> we're really hoping we can instill hope into a country that has been dealing with conflict over the last 30 years. >> reporter: he and the others were kidnapped last wednesday while returning to a visit to a rural medical clinic. they were stopped by armed men and taken to an area about 50 miles from the pakistan border. special operations forces will take on more of the burden of combat as the u.s. moves towards withdrawing most troops in the next two years. seth jones, who has advised commando units calculates 4,000 to 5,000 units could be left behind. >> the operations will be
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several fold. one is targeted strikes against insurgent leadership. second, training afghan nationals, security forces, both army and police. and third, unconventional warfare, which is training local security forces. >> reporter: more attacks and perhaps more kidnappings of civilians with less american troops around. it will become even more risky to be in afghanistan, many say. it was a risk to get joseph. one general, john allen, the top commander in afghanistan, knew he was taking and ordering the rescue when intelligence showed that joseph was in imminent danger of injury or death. jones says there are several things the s.e.a.l.s would have known before they went in. >> you need to collect intelligence on the target to see where they're at, who is guarding it, what the terrain is like. second, you have to look at how you're going to actually insert into that area and look at how
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to get onto the target. >> reporter: according to the state department, more than three dozen foreigners have been kidnapped and held in afghanistan at various points since 2007. it continues to be a risky place for civilians and troops alike. barbara starr, cnn, the pentagon. >> the death of a navy s.e.a.l. and continuing violence in afghanistan has a lot of people in this country asking the question as to whether afghanistan is going to survive when the u.s. leaves or devolve into civil war and whether the security forces in afghanistan are actually going to take over when the united states pulls out its troops next year. i'm going to bring in congressman buck mckeon, chairman of the armed services committee. we talk about this navy s.e.a.l., a member of s.e.a.l. team six, how everyone knows that s.e.a.l. team, very brave men. there have been more than 300 americans killed in afghanistan this year. the taliban is in charge of some parts of the country. al qaeda is still present in parts of the country. is the afghan security force ready?
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>> i'm not sure they're totally ready yet. there are parts of the country that have been turned over to them, but it's a large country. and remember when we asked for when the commander general asked for troops for the surge to finish the mission in the south and then move to the northeast, he didn't get all the troops he asked for. and then they were brought home sooner than they should have been so we didn't really get to complete all of that mission. really didn't get to finish the surge. that left the remaining troops in jeopardy and through off the timetable. now, the one timetable that probably is still holding is that we are going to pull all the troops out in '14. i don't know if that gives us time to totally continue or complete the mission of training of the afghan national security forces. and it's a large number. the last time i was there, i could see we had made a lot of progress.
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the time before, when i was in the south, i got to camp leatherneck, the marines had just gotten there, were just building up and moving out into the desert. we couldn't go because that was a taliban capital. their flag was flying there. the last time i went, we were in charge. i was able to walk down the street and see the merchants and see the things the marines had done and the gains they had made. we opened a school while i was there. so we had made lots of progress. but it's very fragile. and everybody knows we're leaving. everybody knows the taliban's not leaving. it's going to be a tough time between now and when we pull out. >> you know, we have been doing some -- got reporting on the ground, talking to local afghan civilians, and they're really worried about civil war. i have heard that from many people, they think that's what's going to happen, civil war. and it will become a safe haven again for islamic radicals.
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a quote from one, they don't trust our national army because they're not up to the job, and someone said the past 11 years will be a waste if the united states leaves. the united states isn't going to stay just for a nation building effort at this point. the country has changed, but the question is, is civil war and a haven for islamic extremism a risk? >> i think it's obviously a risk. is it one that we want to take? that's up to the commander in chief. he's the one that's going to make the decision when the troops are coming home, how many we may leave behind to protect our gains and to continue the training of the afghan forces. he's supposed to make that decision and announce it in the next couple weeks. i'm waiting to see what his plans are. >> you're going to be part of making the decision as to whether that's okay or not okay. how many is enough? how many troops is enough, do you think? >> depends on what mission they assign them. we have heard secretary panetta,
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i think, said it would be a three-part mission. they would continue to fight against counterterrorism. they would continue to train the afghan security forces. and they would have to have enough of our people there to protect ourselves against further attacks. some of these sensational attacks continue as we speak when we have 68,000 troops there. if we're drawn down to 20,000, 10,000, whatever number the president comes up with, i think we're going to have to look carefully. is that enough to carry out the mission? >> and hamid karzai has blamed the united states for the insecurity in afghanistan. in fact, he recently said he won't enter into a security agreement. i'll quote him, while the united states continues to violate afghan sovereignty and afghan laws. can we do business with president karzai? >> it's pretty tough, isn't it? when you figure all of the sacrifice we made to try to help that country, to try to let them
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have the ability to stand on their own feet and decide their own destiny, and then you get that kind of response. it's a tough -- it's a tough situation. we pulled out all of the troops from iraq, and i don't know that that was a wise thing to do. and it's not like everybody comes home now. we have 4,000 contractors. we're still paying, but we don't have the military there in charge to look after our own people. so these are -- these are tough decisions. i know given our financial situation, we're having to pull back in a lot of places around the world. these cuts in the military are going to have tremendous impact. >> all right. thank you very much. we appreciate your taking the time. >> travel safely. >> thank you. and on a programming note, this thursday, i will be live in afghanistan where we focus on the future of afghanistan. and next, off-field violence led to the death of two nfl players. why violence on the field is a more important issue.
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the national football league has been hit hard this week with two of its players involved in violent deaths. last week, kansas city chiefs linebacker jovan belcher shot and killed his girlfriend before
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turning the gun on himself. two days ago, cowboys player josh brent was charged with manslaughter after a car crash that killed his teammate gary brown. that was a dui. and while the recent off-field violence was shocking, it's the violence on the field that is perhaps a more pressing issue for the legal because while there's criticism of the violence and reckless behavior away from the game, let's just be honest, america. we celebrate it on the field. that's what football is all about. as players have become bigger and faster than ever before, we have seen a rise in injuries, particularly concussions. these injuries, some of which have caused lives and the minds of players, literally, have prompted many to say the game has to change. it has to be a lot less dangerous for players. so far, those suggestions have been met with resistance which mostly come down to money. the nfl right now is enjoying its highest ratings ever. and the league brings in more than $9 billion a year. the question is, would a less dangerous game be less exciting?
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meaning fewer viewers and less money. or would it save the nfl from extinction? did you know the nfl is facing thousands of lawsuits from former players who suffered concussions and other traumas while playing? and while it may have been cost effective for the league to pay out settlements, it's going to get increasingly expensive as more and more players are filing lawsuits. some argue the nfl won't survive if they don't play more violent football. right now the numbers show that americans reward violence on the field and that even though we're shocked supposedly happening off the field we like it on the field and without it the league won't survive. thanks for joining us. "piers morgan tonight" starts now. roi through seo all by cob. and from national. because only national lets you choose any car in the aisle...
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